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Annual Harvest Walk will aid charitable groups

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As she prepares for the ninth annual Harvest Walk/Run fundraiser for the needy, Sister Donna M. Franklin, diocesan director for Catholic Charities, has no trouble explaining why the 4.5-mile event on Oct. 21 is so essential.

“People are coming up short,” she said Friday. “They can’t keep up.”

Who can’t keep up?

The 5 year-old child who goes to bed hungry because family struggles to secure enough food for a week or a month.

The 80-year-old man, having worked his entire life, has to deal with costs so high that he has to choose between food and home heating fuel.

The father of four children who loses his industrial job due to a plant shutdown, works elsewhere for less, sees his hours cut and has only $500 of his $700 mortgage payment.

“That’s a big change in your lifestyle,” Sister Franklin said.

The goal next month is for teams — about 200 contestants are expected — starting at 1 p.m. at the Dobisky Center to raise $15,000. That will be divided between the following organizations: Ogdensburg Neighborhood Center, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army and the various outreach programs at St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Notre Dame Parish, First Presbyterian Church, St. Philip and James Church in Lisbon, St. Raphael’s Church in Heuvelton, Seaway House and Renewal House.

Organizers are well aware of the growing number of individuals and families in the Ogdensburg and surrounding communities who are struggling to make ends meet to pay for essentials like food, health care and utilities.

“It’s all ages,” Sister Franklin said. “It’s families with children.”

All of the organizations and churches will donate all of the administrative supplies and cover all administrative costs for the Harvest Walk/Run. This means that 100 percent of the funds raised to go directly to people in need.

Seaway House Program Director Carole Whitcombe appreciates the event.

“It helps us with our food budget,” she said.

Seaway House serves between 40 and 50 meals a day at a cost of a dollar a plate. The Harvest Walk/Run subsidy, Ms. Whitcombe emphasized, comes in handy at a time when state Office of Mental Health appropriations are down $20,000 to $30,000 in recent years.

“You have to be more efficient when you do this,” she said.

Also, the Harvest Walk/Run Committee has established the Person of Distinction Award “to honor individuals or groups who have contributed to the quality of life of citizens of our community.” Sister Donna said.

The first recipient is Anna Marie Girard.

“Her unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people and her dedication to building a caring and compassionate community is without equal,” Sister Donna said. “Anna Marie is a unique woman, who has lived her life in service to others. She is a positive example and a role model for all of us.”

In addition, the Golden Mile is a new part of the Harvest Walk/Run. It is a shorter walk along the path by the St. Lawrence River for those in a wheelchair, on a walker, or senior citizens who like to walk but cannot do the entire course.

The committee will award an engraved trophy to the team that raises the most funds. There are prizes for individual walkers/runners. The top five individual fundraisers will receive a $25 gift certificate to an area restaurant.

In other events related to the Harvest Walk/Run:

n Seaway House, 212 Caroline St., will hold a can and bottle drive throughout the city on the day of the event. Call 393-3133. Bottles and cans can also brought to St. Lawrence County NYSARC, 330 State St.

n The Place, 1612 Ford St., will hold a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Monday from 4 to 7 p.m. The cost is $7.50 and takeouts are available.

n The Knights of Columbus, 721 Hasbrouck St., will hold a breakfast buffet fundraiser on Sept. 30, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost is $7, free for children under 6. There will be a giveaway for a 26-inch television donated by Wal-Mart and a GPS donated by Radio Shack. There will also be a 50/50 giveaway.

To obtain sponsor sheets, tickets or more information, contact Catholic Charities at 393-2255.

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